East Honolulu, Hawaii

Koko Crater and Koko Marina in Hawaii Kai

Koko Crater and Koko Marina in Hawaii Kai

  • East Honolulu is the area between Kahala and Makapu’u on the south shore of Oahu

  • It’s a desirable residential area that includes Kahala, Waialae Iki, Aina Haina, Hawaii Loa Ridge, Niu Valley and Hawaii Kai

  • Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach, and Makapu’u Lighthouse are a few popular places here

I grew up here in East Honolulu, Hawaii Kai to be exact, so it’s the part of Hawaii that most feels like home to me.

It’s a relatively low key, residential area of the island connected by a single road, Kalanianaole highway, that runs along the coastline after the H-1 freeway ends. There are few high rises on this part of the island as most families live in houses, and it is a lot more Hawaii-esque than central parts of Honolulu.

Here are a few scenic spots that I recommend, from west to east, as well as some food places (at the bottom):


Waialae Golf Course and Koko Crater seen from The Kahala Hotel

Known as one of Honolulu’s top hotels, The Kahala is in a pretty great location. It’s a beachfront hotel tucked away in the upscale, quiet Kahala area next to the Waialae Golf Course.

Sometimes I’ll go to the Plumeria Beach House (info at the bottom) for lunch which has an open-air veranda area looking towards the beach, allowing you to really relax in a peaceful setting near the water.



Wailupe Beach Park near Aina Haina in East Honolulu, Hawaii

Wailupe Beach Park is a very small, local park area alongside Kalanianaole highway. It’s quite easy to miss, but people go to the park to fish, paddle board or have a picnic.

I’ll sometimes quick pitstop to enjoy some takeout. You can also catch a view of the backside of Diamond Head.



Sunset from Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai

At the start of Hawaii Kai, there’s a large parking lot area along the highway’s ocean side. This is Maunalua Bay, which is mainly a boat ramp and paddling area.

I love this part of Hawaii Kai as it’s convenient for watching the sunset. It gives you a panoramic view and there’s always ample parking, which is a big plus.



Koko Marina in Hawaii Kai from Koko Marina Shopping Center

Koko Marina is at the center of my hometown in Hawaii Kai, and it has some of the nicest, turquoise blue waters in Hawaii.

You can get up close from any of the three shopping centers located along it; the Hawaii Kai Towne Center, Hawaii Kai Shopping Center and Koko Marina Center.

The photo at the top of this blog was taken from Hawaii Kai Towne Center and this one just above was from Koko Marina Center.


Hanauma Bay in Honolulu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay is one of the more popular tourist destinations on the island since, well, it’s gorgeous and because you’re able to snorkel with a lot of fish in pretty calm, shallow waters.

Along the crater ridge is a mostly paved trail that’ll give you a nice view of Hanauma Bay from above as well as Hawaii Kai looking towards Diamond Head.

Parking is really limited though, and they close entirely on Tuesdays due to it actually being a nature preserve, so definitely double check.



Halona Cove aka Cockroach Cove in Honolulu

If you keep heading up Kalanianaole highway past Hanauma Bay, you will hit Halona Blowhole and Cockroach Cove on the right.

The coastline in this area is pretty different from most of the island as the road becomes windy and you actually have to drive along the edge of a pretty high lava rock cliff.

Halona Cove aka “Cockroach Cove” is a small beach area below the Blowhole parking lot. You just have to climb down the rocky hill.

From this area looking east, you can also see Sandy Beach, which is a popular and notoriously dangerous bodyboarding spot. Even the Secret Service didn’t like President Obama going there. For that reason, I’ll skip over it although there is a nice tide pool area just after it.



A view of Waimanalo from the Makapuu lighthouse trail

The Makapu’u area is the eastern tip of Oahu. There’s a popular hike there, the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, which is an easy, paved incline that’s less than 3 miles roundtrip. On the way up, you can see Sandy Beach and the back of Koko Crater, and a view of Waimanalo at the top.

There’s also a lookout you can park and walk to in case you’re not in the mood to hike up [MAP]. No shame in that!

Also in the area is Alan Davis beach [MAP] to cool off after.




Now for the food. Most of the food around East Honolulu is at area shopping centers. If you’re looking for something on this side of town, here are some decent choices.


Delicious sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and salads for lunch.

La Tour Cafe is in the Aina Haina Shopping Center and is a good if you want to catch up with friends, have a business meeting and work, or just want to get a good bite to eat.

Everything I’ve had there is delicious, but I’m particularly a fan of their Chili-lime chicken flatbread pizza.



Shave ice and local desserts, Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha basically lives up to its name of providing pure ‘aloha.’

Formerly Doe Fang, a neighborhood crackseed store in Aina Haina Shopping Center, it has grown in popularity not just because it has tasty shave ice in local Hawaii flavors, but also because of their effort to create a family in the community.



One of my favorite places to go for brunch or lunch in Honolulu. It’s a gorgeous, near beach, open-air location at one of the best hotels on the island.

Plumeria Beach House is one of the restaurants at The Kahala Hotel and has won a range of local awards. They have buffets as well.

Perfect spot to enjoy a nice, yet casual meal surrounded by Hawaii’s lush environment.